The Melbourne Rebels have announced the signing of former All Blacks back-row Adam Thomson for the 2016 Super Rugby season.
Thomson will bring a wealth of experience to Melbourne, having made 83 Super Rugby appearances for the Highlanders and Reds as well as winning the 2011 Rugby World Cup with the All Blacks among 31 appearances for his country (29 Tests).
Capable of playing anywhere in the loose forwards, Thomson played alongside Rebels centre Tamati Ellison for both the Highlanders and All Blacks, while he worked with the Rebels’ assistant coach Zane Hilton during their time together at Canon Eagles in Japan’s Top League. Thomson is a try-scoring back-row, having crossed 21 times at Super Rugby level.
Rebels head coach Tony McGahan said he was delighted to be able to add a player of Thomson’s pedigree to his squad.
“Adam will bring a great deal of experience, ability and dynamism to our squad,” McGahan told the Melbourne Rebels' official website.
“He has proven himself to be one of the top loose forwards in the Southern Hemisphere over a sustained period, and he’ll add a lot to our Rugby program when he arrives in Melbourne.”
For Thomson himself, the opportunity to join a young team on the rise was one he simply couldn’t turn down.
“At this stage of my career, I wanted to continue to play Rugby at a high level and it was important to be in an environment that best fits my needs, that I feel can get the best out of me and where I believe I can contribute the most,” he explained.
“Having played against the Rebels for a number of years, I’ve seen some real development; the style they play and the direction the club’s heading is exciting.
"I think my game will fit well with the Rebels and allow me to play some quality football, which I am still very much driven to do.”
Thomson said that the opportunity to work underneath McGahan and Hilton, and alongside Ellison, was a driving factor in his decision to sign with the Rebels.
“While moving to the Rebels wasn’t a decision I took lightly, I can't wait to work with Tony and Zane,” he said.
“I have only met Tony briefly, but already I like his style and the direction he wants to take the team, while Zane and I know each other well. We have good banter and get the best out of each other, which is an exciting dynamic to work within again.
“I’ve heard nothing but positive reports about the Rebels and I'm excited to be a part of it. Tamati can't speak highly enough about the club, but he also said he needed some support in keeping the Aussie boys in line!”
The Melbourne Rebels’ managing director Andrew Cox, who like Thomson is from Christchurch, said that the signing of the international back-row signalled the club’s intent to attract the very best talent available to Melbourne.
“It’s certainly very exciting to announce that Adam will move to Melbourne and join the Rebels,” said Cox.
“Rugby supporters across the globe have been most impressed with his ability, work rate and physicality over a number of years, and now Melbourne rugby fans will be treated to this consistently in their own backyard at AAMI Park.
“It’s a credit to the rugby programme being built by Tony McGahan and Baden Stephenson that he wants to move here, and I also tip my hat to Adam for being prepared to uproot himself and shift to Melbourne and the Rebels at such an exciting time for our Club.”
In 2015, Thomson topped the tackle count and ranked third for carries at the Reds, while only Sharks lock Marco Wentzel stole more line-outs from opposition throws in Super Rugby than Thomson.